I'm a few years away from being a father (at least that's the plan), but I am getting married in August. This, along with the lesson I taught this morning for discipleship class, has me thinking about fatherhood. In fact, just last night Christine and I talked over a few things regarding how we plan on teaching our children. Right now, all of this is just a distant dream, but soon it won't be a dream.
"Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Instructing my children to follow God and do right will be one of my highest callings in life. The passage above is sobering because I feel so unprepared to do it.
The reason I feel so unprepared to follow through with the command above, to teach my children, is that I will be teaching beyond scheduled lessons. Teaching my children will not look like me pulling out a lesson plan and presenting information to them. I prepared myself for that in college, but teaching my children will be much more than that. My children will take lessons from me when I sit at home, when I walk along the road, when I lie down and when I get up. My children will learn from me about how to live by the way I conduct myself more than by the words I say. That is sobering. In order to teach my children to live well, I have to live well.
Did you get that? In order to teach my children to follow God I must follow God. In order to teach them to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" I have to do that myself. My children will learn more from my actions and words spoken to others than they will from lessons I will present to them.
So what? How does this affect my life today? I'm not yet a father, so what do I do today? Here's the 'so what?': I can't afford to wait to practice being the man I want my children to be. I need to become now the lesson I want to teach later.
To those of you who are parents I pray that you teach your children to live well and follow God. To those of you, like me, that want to have children someday: be the lesson you want to teach later, today.